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13 Jan 2018
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News

A selection of information, news, thoughts, and other subjects from the staff at Mirror.

Two young hilltribe girls, aged 14 and 16, have been returned to their homes after spending nearly three years in Malaysia.

The girls, whose names are protected for their safety, were lured into going south, to Hat Yai, for work. But, the individual that promised them work, took the girls straight across the border, into Malaysia. They were imprisoned, and would have spent many years in a brothel, had they not escaped within two days and gone to the police. Arrests were made and the girls were out of danger.

The saga didn't end there though, because the girls are without Thai citizenship. When the Malay police came to send them back across the border, and home, the Thai authorities refused them entry as they had no passport or documentation to show their nationality.

Because of this legal stumbling block, the girls were forced to spend two and a half years in a Malaysian refuge, without hope of returning to their home.

At this point we became aware of the issue from relatives, who came for advice from our legal centre (part of our Thai Citizenship project). Once the team looked into the details, we were able to secure temporary documents, allowing them to legally enter Thailand. Now that they are back home, and their parents are Thai citizens already, we can begin the process to gain citizenship for both girls.

It may seem strange that the girls are without citizenship, while their parents have it - one of the anomalies of the law is that children are not automatically given citizenship, even if they are born in Thailand.

trafficked girls can come home

Nahae struggles to the forest to go to the toilet, as her home does not have these facilitiesOnce upon a time, a pretty young girl named Nahae was born with a terrible disability, making it impossible for her to move anywhere like the other kids. Her disability could have been treated with simple surgery when she was just a baby, but it was not possible for her. The thing is her family is stateless, which means the Thai government does not recognise them as citizens. The girl could not, and still cannot, receive any help from the state, or welfare, even though she was born and has always been living in Thailand. She is from the Lahu hilltribe.

Now, this little girl has grown into a 15-year old young lady. She still cannot walk, and most of her family is still stateless. This situation is getting very problematic because her family does not have a toilet in their house. She has to go into the forest by herself, every time she needs to go to the bathroom, even at night. It is really dangerous for her because she has to crawl there, and she is at risk of being assaulted. She is vulnerable because of her disability.

The Mirror Foundation will help Nahae in two ways - In the long-term, we will help her and her family to obtain Thai citizenship. The process is very long because her parents have to gain citizenship before she can apply for it. In the short-term, we want to build an adapted toilet in her family’s house. We need to raise 15,000 baht (approx. 500$) in order to build a sanitary facility with the help of our Outdoor volunteer team. We would like to collect the money as soon as possible so we can build the toilet before we finish our internship at The Mirror Foundation.

If you want to participate in enhancing Nahae’s quality of life, you can donate following this link: 

Thank you for your generosity, 

Gabrielle and Laura, volunteers at The Mirror Foundation

To anyone outside Thailand, things may appear to be chaotic... but, here at Mirror and throughout the vast majority of the country, life goes on as normal.

We had 26 new individual volunteers begin this Monday, and have a total of 40 in all currently.

We also have 2 groups with us at the moment - Operation Groundswell's team has just built a traditional bamboo home for a local Akha village, for them to develop a homestay programme with our help.Horizon's group is finishing up their first of three weeks. They have been improving a road out to rice paddies, so that villagers can access their fields all year round.

Hello!

DSC 8930Another Children's Day is upon us, and The Mirror Foundation will open its gates to over 2,000 hilltribe children to join us in a day of fun and games, prizes and gifts, food and drinks, performances and celebrations... all donated free by ourselves and our friends from around Thailand and the rest of the world.

We are swamped with donations of toys, clothing, books, games, etc - all of which will be distributed on the day. For those who cannot join us personally, the remainder will be delivered out into the more remote villages, and taken to hospitals and schools, over the coming weeks.

If you cannot join us on Saturday 11th January, maybe you can chat with friends and family to contribute to the event financially. As you are well aware, the work we do lasts all year round, so donating for Children's Day is a symbolic way of helping us for the whole of 2014 - 6,000B means we can maintain one of our scholarship students for another year of school; $50 helps to fund the teachers that we employ in our Free Schools project, or can go towards getting a DNA sample for a stateless child applying for Thai citizenship. Our work continues throughout the year, and our need for funds and donations to support this is neverending.

If you are able, individually or with friends and family, to donate a minimum of $50, we would be so grateful. Putting a smile on a child's face for a day is a great feeling - but giving them an education, or achieving citizenship for a stateless person, or helping to correct an injustice, makes that smile last a lot longer.

Our preferred method of donation is via Paypal, mainly because it is instant and we can get to work with your donation almost immediately. Please use the following link to go to our Paypal donation page - fill in any amount you wish, but if possible no less than $50, and follow directions to complete the payment process. There is no need to have a Paypal account, if you have a credit or debit card with which to donate.

Donation page link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=CS9UU3KK9VGXS

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to those who have volunteered with us previously - we hope we changed your life a little bit for the better, and that you got out as much as you put into your experience with us.

Happy New Year from all of us at The Mirror Foundation!

DSC 9067 DSC 8895

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all, from the staff at Mirror!

Here's a little song from some of the local schoolchildren that we teach...

motorbike-crash6


UPDATE

Bon took Apa on November 20th, 2013 to his doctor's appointment. He is doing well. He is in very little pain and will not be able to eat starting today, November 21st, 2013.

Yesterday, November 20th, 2013, some of the Mirror volunteers and I went to go visit him at the hospital. We got in trouble because one of the volunteers wanted to take a picture with him since she will be leaving on Saturday. The nurse made me delete the pictures because it is against the law.

This Friday, November 22nd, 2013, Apa will be having surgery. When he first got into his accident, the doctors had removed part of his skull and stored it in his stomach, which allowed his skull to remain sterile and nourished. When he has his surgery, they will place that part of the skull back into his head. We have discontinued his English lessons for now, but when he is fully recovered, we will start again.


Apa is a 17 year old hilltribe youth from Jalae village. He was hit by a vehicle while riding his motorbike and suffered extensive injuries to his legs. He was unable to move for 2 months, due to his legs being crushed in the accident.

When Apa was injured his family was unable to communicate with the hospital doctors, or lawyers - they are Akha hilltribe and unable to speak Thai. The family also couldn't afford to drive Apa to all of his appointments at the hospital. Mirror Foundation assists Apa by translating and speaking to the doctors and lawyers, and providing transportation to and from the hospital. Mirror Foundation also sends volunteers twice a week to teach Apa English. Apa's family is grateful for the help from volunteers and staff at Mirror. Due to the combined help from everyone Apa has begun to walk with the assistance of crutches, something the villagers didn't believe would happen again.

Thank you Outdoor volunteers for building Apa a special bathroom facility, and thank you Indoor for teaching Apa English. Thank you everyone for your concern, your assistance, and your donations. The story is not over yet, as the case remains to be resolved, and Apa is still unable to walk freely, but the distance we have come since the day of the accident suggests that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Apa. 

 

busy-weekWe are in the midst of high season in Thailand, and this has been epitomised by the surge in trek bookings this month. This week alone, we have treks going out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with staff zipping from one destination to another, picking up, dropping off, and showing the sights of the city.

All of that on top of two full days and nights in the surrounding hills, trekking and staying as guests of families from some of the regions many hilltribes (in these particular cases, the Akha and the Lahu).

At the same time, we are busy with lots of other things - we have a group of volunteers who have just started their programme down south, on Kao Lak, working with the Moken seatribe. Our latest group of volunteers set off for their working week, at a rehabilitation centre for ex-addicts. Their task is to help build a large pigsty, which will be part of the residents' programme of rehabilitation. Other tasks during the stay include teaching the Thai staff English language, collating data and photographs about the programme so we can update our website information. Their final night will be spent at Ban Jalae, a Lahu village, home of Surachai (leader of the homestay staff).

We are also in the middle of arrangements for a number of groups due to arrive - the administration and preparation for groups, as well as individual volunteers, is considerable. We must survey potential villages for sending volunteers, organise materials and resources, work out budgets, schedule guides, staff, and vehicles, arrange homestays, school visits, pickups, drop offs, address issues such as dietary requirements, medical concerns, answer a million questions via email, and then often re-jig everything as the goalposts move at the last minute... Never a dull moment!

Lastly, for now, we said goodbye to Ma Ji Sue this week. He was also known as Pineapple, and was a mainstay of the foundation for the last 10 years or so. A mongrel dog, originally the pet of Jon Morris (one of our earliest volunteers), Ma Ji Sue spent his days sleeping, eating, fighting, and protecting each and every volunteer that passed through the gates of the foundation. He ended his days flea-bitten, moth-eaten, and cancer-ridden, but was nonetheless loved equally as much then as he was when he was a pup.

With that, I'll leave you until next time... Live together in harmony, you lot.

TMF 5344Children's Day, a national holiday in Thailand, is a major event with activities taking place all over the country. It is a celebration of children, and is akin to a massive birthday party for all the kids in Thailand. The event always occurs on the second Saturday of January (in 2013, this is January 12th).

However, not all children in Thailand benefit from this day - or any other day during the year - because of poverty, abuse, exploitation, or lack of opportunity.

The Mirror Foundation, whilst working every day to improve the lot of children from ethnic minorities in the region, run a big party for Children's Day, based at our foundation outside Chiang Rai. Each child gets to play a variety of games and activities (never less than a dozen), gets a free lunch, free drinks and ice cream, small prizes and snacks, and a main present at the end of the party.

We regularly host over 2,500 hilltribe youngsters, accompanied by parents, and mingling with staff, volunteers, interns, donors, local dignitaries, and media. It usually means we have 5,000 or more people on our 7 rai site (approx 2.5 acres). The foundation spends months organising the event, as many important aspects must be managed well in advance. We look for sponsorship for the food and drinks, donations of presents, helpers to run booths, and much more.

All of the organising, especially in the final week leading up to the day, takes a lot of manpower - teams of Mirror staff, volunteers (Thai and international), and our scholarship students, all help to prepare the presents, booths, food, and area. Without their help, it would never happen!

What we always struggle to find each year, is the funding to make this happen. Often we have to use money from our main budget to cover costs, despite all the donations and free help.

If you are in a position to donate, or could pass this message on - via Facebook, Twitter, email, or any other means, we would be very grateful.

Monetary donations can be made via the link on the left side of the home page, but if there are any other forms of donation or help, please contact us.

  • Non-monetary donations (preferably new) requested include: toys, books, clothing, blankets, stationery, educational games and activities, painting and art equipment.
  • Monetary donations would go towards: covering costs for food, fees to hire tents/chairs etc, bouncy castle and slide, wrapping for presents, etc.

Thank you

The history of Loi Krathong Festival

loy-krathong-2Loi Krathong festival is an ancient Thai tradition, which is takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month (usually November). It is a very beautiful scene, with the full moon shining down on the river, perfect for floating Krathong. Loi (ลอย) means 'to float', and Krathong (กระทง) is the item which is floated down the river (see further).

In the past, lanterns were floated as part of Brahmanism, to worship the Gods; Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma. When Thai people adopted Buddhism, they adapted this ceremony in reverence to the goddess of the Mae Khong river (Mekong). 


Floating Krathong along the river was allegedly created by Nang Noppamas; the favourite concubine of a Sukhothai King (Loethai). She made Krathong lotus-shaped, and gave it to the king of Sukhothai to float along the river. According to Sri Chula Lucks treatise, Phra Ruang (a Sukhothai King) said, 'From now on, on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, kings of Siam have to make a lotus-shaped floating lantern, to worship for ever after'.

In Rattanakosin period, people often made big and beautiful Krathong. According to Chao Phraya Dhipharachawong's historical annals:



In the twelfth lunar month on 14 and 15 waxing moon, I ask for members of the royal family and civil servants to make big-sized Krathongs, look like banana trunk rafts, sized 8-9 sauk in width (an ancient Thai measure of length) and 10-11 sauk tall. Competitions developed: For example, some imitate Krathong shaped as Mount Meru, while others made Krathong as baskets decorated with flowers. There are a lot of people to do these so they use a lot of money- about 20 chung (an ancient measure of weight).

Nowadays, Loi Krathong festival is held mostly in the Thai provinces. Particularly Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai - there are Krathong parades, contests for making the best Krathong, and Noppamas beauty pageants.

The villagers in northern and north-eastern parts of Thailand also often send lanterns rising into the sky, made of coloured paper, to float across the heavens at night. The light from lanterns, with moonshine and stars glittering, can be seen for miles, and is very beautiful.


Reasons for Loi Krathong

loy-krathong-6

  • To ask for forgiveness from Pra Mae Khongkha (Goddess of the River Mae Khong) because we use and drink her water. Moreover, we often throw rubbish and other waste in the water.
  • To worship the footprint of Buddha on the shore of Nammathanati River, in India.
  • To get rid of misfortune, and sin - Bhraman ceremony.

Present day Loi Krathong

loy-krathong-1To this day, Thai people still keep the traditions - on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, people prepare natural materials to make Krathong. They use sections of banana tree trunk, and lotus flowers to make beautiful Krathong, adding candles, incense sticks, and sometimes coins. They always ask for good luck in the future and forgiveness from Pra Mae Khongkha.

At the Buddhist temples and tourist places, they hold the contests for making Krathong, and Noppamas beauty pageants. There are many entertainment shows at night, and fireworks are let off constantly. Due to the use of natural materials, the Krathong easily decomposes, becoming food for the fish in the river.


Loy Krathong song (Translated)

November full moon shines,

Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong,

and the water's high in the river and local klong,

Loy Loy Krathong, Loy Loy Krathong,

Loy Krathong is here and everybody's full of cheer,

We're together at the klong,

Each one with his krathong,

As we push away we pray,

We can see a better day.


How to make Krathong

Methods to make Krathong from banana leaves

The head of Krathong shall use a section of soft stem cut from a banana tree trunk, in round shape approx. 1-2.5” thick, covered with intricately folded banana leaves.

loy-krathong-3Method 1: Petal Blossom

  • Cut banana leaves to approx. 1.5” wide and 6” long
  • Fold 3 petals according the illustrated picture
  • Arranged as terraced lines according to the illustrated picture (see right)
  • Attach around the Krathong base - the number of petals depends on the size of the base
  • Decorate with flowers, joss sticks and candle.

Folding of petals in this pattern can be used jointly with other folding patterns in the same piece as desired.

loy-krathong-4Method 2: Rose Petal

  • Cut banana leaves to approx. 1.5” wide and 6” long
  • Fold 3 rose petals according to the second illustration, and arrange in rows as desired. The top of the petals and beds should be in the same line to give it a beautiful and orderly look.
  • Use green or black thread to sew in straight line.
  • Fold banana leaves and sew enough to cover around the Krathong base, attach to the base with pins, and then trim to the same level of the base. The finished Krathong should look like a crown
  • Decorate with flowers, joss sticks and candle.

Folding of petals in this pattern can be used jointly with other folding patterns in the same piece as desired.

loy-krathong-5Method 3: Axe

  • Cut banana leaves to approx. 1.5” wide and 6” long
  • Fold 3 petals according to the illustrated picture and arrange in the same line with appropriate span. It is recommended to fold all the same size for a beautiful and orderly look.
  • Use green or black thread to sew in straight line.
  • Fold banana leaves and sew enough to cover around the Krathong base, attach to the base with pins, and then trim to the same level of the base. The finished Krathong should look like a basin
  • Decorate with flowers, incense sticks and candle.

Folding of petals in this pattern can be used jointly with other folding patterns in the same piece as desired.

bangkok floods2As many volunteers may come and go through the Mirror Foundation we do our best to keep the Volunteer Spirit alive. During my stay here the group has been unbelievably welcoming, fun loving and supportive of each other. It is an amazing experience to bond with so many people from all over the world. The contrast between countries, ages and personalities is sensational. Everyone has something great to offer.

As evenings can be quiet or mellow, we have elected an events coordinator put together a plethora of activities. We have recently had game night, quiz night, movie night, musical jam sessions and dance lessons. Everyone takes turns leading something they are good at or just enjoy. People may partake or sit out as they like. It is a great way to interact and learn about each other.

Although Christmas is not generally celebrated in predominantly Buddhist Thailand, in a religious sense at least, the majority of hilltribe villages in Chiang Rai province are Christian of one form or another. The missionaries have spent the last century or so converting entire villages from the traditional animist practices (worship of the ancestors), to Catholicism, Baptist, Presbyterian, and many other denominations.

As such, in our area, there are many villages which celebrate Christmas. Even though The Mirror Foundation is a non-religious organisation, we visit some of these villages and celebrate together with the residents. It is a way of maintaining close contacts, trust, and not only that, it's fun! There is the added bonus that it gives our volunteers a chance to celebrate Christmas far from home, and also experience the different ways other cultures practice this occasion.

Each year we go carolling with the Karen residents of Ban Huay Khom, moving from house to house, singing familiar Christmas carols in a foreign tongue. We travel en masse to eat lunches at villages with exotic names such as: Pukot, Jalae, Apa, Aja, Yafu, Nam Huay Rim, and many more besides.

Every year, the foundation puts on a Christmas/New Year party, inviting villagers to attend, and in the evening we have dinner and karaoke, with films from throughout the year put onto a big screen, and Secret Santa present swapping. This year the party falls on the 29th December.

All of us at The Mirror Foundation - staff, families, interns, and volunteers - would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

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